Sunday, February 28, 2021

Books to combat anti-Asian racism in America

Jae-Yeon Yoo is an MA candidate in English at New York University. Stefani Kuo (郭佳怡) is a poet/playwright/performer and native of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

At Electric Lit they assembled a literary guide books to combat anti-Asian racism in America. One title on the list:
America is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo

In Castillo’s debut novel, Hero De Vera moves from a politically turbulent Philippines to suburban San Jose. America is Not the Heart explores social inequity and racism amidst the Filipinx American community, as well as what it means to pursue the “American Dream.” Castillo also pays careful attention to the code-switching that often happens for immigrant families; her characters speak Spanish, Tagalog, Pangasinan, and Ilocano. The title nods to Carlos Bulosan’s groundbreaking novel from the 1970s, America is in the Heart, which describes a Filipino migrant worker’s experiences with brutal racism on a California farm.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Ten thrillers based on real-life events

Ben McPherson’s debut novel was the highly acclaimed A Line of Blood. He is a television producer and director, as well as a writer, and for more than ten years worked for the BBC, among other outlets.

[The Page 69 Test: A Line of Blood.]

McPherson's new novel, Love and Other Lies, is partly based on terrorist Anders Breivik’s slaughter of 77 people at a Norwegian summer camp in 2011.

At Publishers Weekly the author tagged ten thrillers based on real-life events, including:
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

This book made me feel actively dirty, complicit in deeds that disgusted me, and yet I’ve read it three times. Why? Because Hannibal Lecter is a superb creation. Harris based the character on Dr. Alfredo Ballí Treviño, a prison doctor he met while conducting interviews in a Mexican jail. Dr. Treviño was in fact an inmate, a death row prisoner awaiting execution, a quietly charismatic man, and highly intelligent. Harris’s Lecter is the serial killer as brilliant mind, with a capacity far beyond anything we can imagine in ourselves. Who cares how unlikely that actually is? Lecter is so damn charismatic that a small part of me, a bad part for sure, wants to cheer him on. Thank God, then, for Clarice Starling, the moral center of the novel. Interesting, too, that Treviño’s actual crimes—a string of hitchhiker murders—are committed in Harris’s novel by the character of Buffalo Bill.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Silence of The Lambs is among E.G. Scott's best frenemies in fiction, Caroline Louise Walker's six terrifying villain-doctors in fiction, Kathy Reichs's six best books, Matt Suddain's five great meals from literature, Elizabeth Heiter's ten favorite serial killer novels, Jill Boyd's five books with the worst fictional characters to invite to Thanksgiving, Monique Alice's six great fictional evil geniuses, sixteen book-to-movie adaptations that won Academy Awards.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 26, 2021

Eight books about the strange and curious world of early robots

Rebecca Morgan Frank’s fourth collection of poems is Oh You Robot Saints! (2021).

Her previous collections are Sometimes We’re All Living in a Foreign Country and The Spokes of Venus, and Little Murders Everywhere, finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

At Lit Hub she shared a reading list that is "an eclectic sampling to help you navigate the world of automata that live in libraries." One title on the list:
E.R. Truitt, Medieval Robots

I found E.R. Truitt’s book Medieval Robots on my living room coffee table, where my resident medievalist had left it, and opening it was a bit like being Alice falling into the looking glass: I discovered a whole world I didn’t know existed, one with mechanical monkeys and talking heads, with magical gardens full of automata and medieval romances in which automata guard tombs. Here you’ll find the fascinating story of Gerbert of Aurillac, his talking head, and his rise to Pope, but you’ll also find discussions of clockworks that encompass both engineering and philosophy. This is not a compendium of fantastical tales, but a scholarly deep dive into medieval automata, realized and literary, with a scope that embraces the long history of the automaton. Truitt investigates some of the most interesting questions about the human drive to create automata, for, as she notes in the introduction, automata “are mimetic objects that dramatize the structure of the cosmos and humankind’s role in it.” This was the first book on automata I read, and the questions and curiosity it instilled in me jumpstarted my own book project and sent me on a wonderful journey of further reading. If there is one book that everyone should read about early automata, Truitt’s book is it. My guess is that some of you, like me, won’t stop there.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Top 10 books about castaways

Lucy Clarke is the bestselling author of six psychological thrillers - The Sea Sisters, A Single Breath, The Blue/No Escape, Last Seen, You Let Me In, and The Castaways. Her debut novel was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick, and her books have been sold in over 20 territories.

Clarke is a passionate traveller, beach hut dweller, and fresh air enthusiast. She's married to a professional windsurfer and, together with their two young children, they spend their winters travelling and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Clarke writes from a beach hut, using the inspiration from the wild south coast to craft her stories.

At the Guardian she tagged ten favorite books about castaways, including:
Life of Pi by Yann Martel

After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a 16-year-old boy ends up drifting in a lifeboat for 227 days with only a hyena, zebra, orangutan and Bengal tiger for company. How’s that for an unlikely bunch of castaways? Pi’s journey is as an allegory for the spiritual journey of finding faith and belief in one’s self. It’s one of the best loved works of modern fiction and has garnered many fans, including Barack Obama, who wrote a letter directly to Martel, describing Life of Pi as “an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Life of Pi is on Katy Yocom's list of the ten best tigers in fiction, Jodi Picoult's recommended list, Martyn Ford's top ten list of fantastical pets in children's literature, Off the Shelf's list of eight great books told by child narrators, Janis MacKay's top ten list of books set on the ocean, Kathryn Williams's list of six notable novels set in just one place, Scott Greenstone's list of seven top allegorical novels, Sara Gruen's six favorite books list, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on castaways, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best zoos in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Top 10 queer protagonists in crime fiction

Russ Thomas grew up in the 80s reading anything he could get his hands on, writing stories, watching television, and playing videogames: in short, anything that avoided the Great Outdoors. After a few ‘proper’ jobs, he discovered the joys of bookselling, where he could talk to people about books all day. Now a full-time writer, he also teaches creative writing classes and mentors new authors.

Thomas's new novel is Nighthawking.

At CrimeReads he tagged his "top ten list of the most memorable queer protagonists of crime fiction." One title on the list:
Tom Ripley

Patricia Highsmith’s eponymous anti-hero first appeared in The Talented Mr Ripley (1955). As protagonists go they don’t come much more disreputable than Ripley. He’s a conman, a thief, and eventually a serial killer. But despite his morally dubious persona, he is at least the star of the show. Ripley’s sexuality, in the novels at least, is understated: the sex scenes go no further than the suggestive lighting of a cigarette, or a lingering gaze over a cocktail. He explicitly states that he isn’t homosexual, but his obsession with Dickie Greenleaf, and his tendency towards unreliable narration more than suggest otherwise. He’s far from sympathetic, yet Highsmith manages an incredible feat—to have you rooting for him anyway. He’s nothing if not memorable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Paul Vidich's list of five of the most enduring imposters in crime fiction & espionage, Lisa Levy's list of eight of the most toxic friendships in crime fiction, Elizabeth Macneal's list of five sympathetic fictional psychopaths, Laurence Scott's list of seven top books about doppelgangers, J.S. Monroe's list of seven suspenseful literary thrillers, Simon Lelic's top ten list of false identities in fiction, Jeff Somers's list of fifty novels that changed novels, Olivia Sudjic's list of eight favorite books about love and obsession, Roz Chast's six favorite books list, Nicholas Searle's top five list of favorite deceivers in fiction, Chris Ewan's list of the ten top chases in literature, Meave Gallagher's top twenty list of gripping page-turners every twentysomething woman should read, Sophia Bennett's top ten list of books set in the Mediterranean, Emma Straub's top ten list of holidays in fiction, E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Nine novels about gossip

Priyanka Champaneri received her MFA in creative writing from George Mason University and has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts numerous times. She received the 2018 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing for The City of Good Death, her first novel.

At Electric Lit, Champaneri tagged "nine books to quell your appetite for a good gossip." One title on the list:
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

After a storm kills all the men on a Norwegian island in 1617, the women left behind have only themselves to rely on. While they grieve, some get to work manning the fishing boats, others take care of storing winter provisions—and a handful decide to busy their tongues with whispers that quickly ignite into something uglier. Taking inspiration from a real-life storm that preceded the 1620 witch trials, this book is a dark and brooding exploration into how women can shift roles, form bonds, and light the match that sets the whole thing ablaze. Gossip takes a dark and sinister turn, as one character observes:

“But now she knows she was foolish to believe that evil existed only out there. It was here, among them, walking on two legs, passing judgement with a human tongue.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 22, 2021

The novels of the Dark Academia canon

Amy Gentry is the author of the feminist thrillers Good as Gone, Last Woman Standing, and Bad Habits, as well as Boys for Pele, a book of music criticism in the 33 1/3 series.

At CrimeReads she tagged the books of “'Dark Academia,' after the gothic, bookish online aesthetic that adopts The Secret History as its foundational text." One title on the list:
Good Girls Lie, JT Ellison (2019)

J.T. Ellison’s standalone entry into the Dark Academia genre, Good Girls Lie, starts off with a bang—a presumed suicide dangles from the wrought-iron front gates of The Goode School, an all-girls “Silent Ivy” in Virginia where the usual secret societies and mean girls abound—only to dive into the perspective of an avowed sociopath. Or is she? Ellison’s boarding-school suspense novel is packed with masterful twists that unpack lie after lie, starting with the first: “Goode girls are always good.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Good Girls Lie is among Avery Bishop's five thrillers that explore "mean girl" culture.

My Book, The Movie: Good Girls Lie.

The Page 69 Test: Good Girls Lie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 21, 2021

50 great classic novels under 200 pages

Emily Temple holds a BA from Middlebury College and an MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns fellow and the recipient of a Henfield Prize.

Temple's first novel is The Lightness.

At Lit Hub she tagged fifty great classic novels under 200 pages. One title on the list:
Leonard Gardner, Fat City (1969) : 183 pages

Universally acknowledged as the best boxing novel ever written, but so much more than that: at its core, it’s a masterpiece about that secret likelihood of life, if not of literature: never achieving your dreams.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Fat City is among Johnny Shaw's ten favorite California crime novels that aren't set in Los Angeles or San Francisco, Beth Raymer's six favorite books, and Markus Zusak's top ten boxing books.

Gerald Haslam nominated Fat City as the Great California Novel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The best titles on LGBT+ history

Michael Cashman is a British politician and life peer. Born and raised in the East End of London, he acted throughout his childhood and adulthood and is best known for his role as Colin Russell in Eastenders. He is the co-founder of the Stonewall Group and was the UK's first ever special envoy on LGBT issues. He was elected as an MEP in 1999, a position he filled for fifteen years. He has been awarded the Stonewall Politician of the Year, a Pink News Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Diversity Awards.

Cashman's memoir is One of Them: From Albert Square to Parliament Square.

At the Guardian he tagged his favorite books on LGBT+ history, including:
My obsession with connecting with the rights and the plights of others is reflected in the family memoir East West Street. Written by the human rights lawyer Philippe Sands, it takes us back via the Nuremberg trials to Nazi Europe, as he seeks to understand what his relatives went though, uncovering heroism, sacrifices and the terrifyingly ordinary overture to genocide.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 19, 2021

Ten top titles in maternity leave noir

Molly Odintz is the Senior Editor for CrimeReads. She grew up in Austin and worked as a bookseller at BookPeople for years before her recent move up to New York City for a life in crime. She likes cats, crime novels, and coffee.

At CrimeReads, Odintz tagged ten titles that "were begun, polished, imagined, or perfected during the short window allotted to their authors to bond with their newborns." One title on the list:
Call After Midnight, Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen was on maternity leave from her job as a doctor in Hawaii (#goals) when she penned her first intricate thriller, Call After Midnight, in which a newlywed, refusing to believe her husband has been killed in a fire, goes on a dramatic search for him across Europe and encounters dangerous forces along the way. Gerritsen now writes full-time and incorporates her medical knowledge into some of the most fiendishly clever medical thrillers ever plotted.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Ten top classic stories retold

The Smash-Up, Ali Benjamin's new novel, is based on Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton's novella about a strained marriage in a small town.

At the Guardian, Benjamin tagged ten "terrific books that breathe fresh life into the familiar," including:
On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Howard, a white, progressive English academic, reeling from the consequences of having cheated on his African American wife, is helpless as his family’s fate becomes increasingly entwined with that of his professional nemesis: a wealthy, conservative Black man challenging their
university’s affirmative action policy. This homage to EM Forster’s Howard’s End gently satirises academia (“He was bookish, she was not … She called a rose a rose. He called it an accumulation of cultural and biological constructions circulating around the mutually attracting binary poles of nature/artifice”), while remaining a moving exploration of race, privilege, family, regret and beauty itself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

On Beauty is among Brian Boone's twenty books that are absolute dorm room essentials, Ann Leary's top ten books set in New England, and Tolani Osan's ten top books that "illuminate how disparate cultures can reveal the mystery and beauty in each other and make us aware of the hardships, dreams, and hidden scars of those we share space with."

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

25 actually pretty happy couples in literature

The Lit Hub staff compiled a list of twenty-five "truly happy couples in literature," which is not so easy "especially when you aren’t just talking about the ending." One entry on the list:
Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man

For all their wobbly, boozy nights, Nick and Nora Charles have one of the steadiest relationships I’ve ever encountered in literature. Despite that these characters are associated with a gigantic film series, they only appear in one story, the fizzy highball of a murder mystery novel, The Thin Man. Nick is an ex-PI, and Nora is an heiress, and the two spend their days drinking, sleeping in, shopping, visiting with friends, playing with their dog Asta, and ultimately, solving a murder. Maybe it’s all the money and/or all the liquor, but they are extremely chill—nothing fazes them or causes a rift between them. Through all the wisecracking, flirting, and bantering, they deeply support one another. Cheers to a spirited couple like no other! –Olivia Rutigliano, CrimeReads Assistant Editor
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Thin Man is among John Mullan's ten best thin men in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Five SFF books with broody male characters

Brigid Kemmerer is the New York Times bestselling author of dark and alluring Young Adult novels.

A full time writer, Kemmerer lives in the Baltimore area with her husband, her boys, her dog, and her cat. When she’s not writing or being a mommy, you can usually find her with her hands wrapped around a barbell.

The latest title in her Cursebreaker series is A Vow So Bold and Deadly.

At Kemmerer tagged five of her favorite sci-fi & fantasy novels with broody male characters. One title on the list:
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

They just do not come more broody than Cardan! He’s a spoiled young prince who has zero you-know-whats to give. The book is told from the point of view of Jude, a young mortal woman trapped in the faerie realm, and she’s an incredibly morally complex character herself. But I loved Cardan from the moment I met him, and Holly Black is a master of making her readers love the most unlikeable protagonists.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 15, 2021

Seven books about break-ups & heartbreaks

Frances Yackel studied philosophy and creative writing at New York University, where she learned how to pretend she was going somewhere important. The countryside of Vermont, or more recently the mountains of New Zealand, are as much her home as the Classics section of the nearest independent bookstore.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books to help you get through heartbreak, including:
Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

In Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson rewrites the story of Herakles and a red, winged monster, originally told by the Greak poet Stesichoros. In the style of Stesichoros, Carson writes her bildungsroman novel in verse from the perspective of Geryon as his infatuation with Herakles inevitably leads to agony. Through the journey of this complex and unrequited love, Geryon actively seeks to discover himself. Devising his autobiography with sculpture, photographs, and words, he explores what it means to be the monster of his own story.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Autobiography of Red is among Naja Marie Aidt's ten favorite novels by poets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 14, 2021

42 books to help you get through the rest of quarantine

Alyssa Vaughn is a writer and editor based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

At Boston Magazine she curated a list of reading suggestions from Boston-area booksellers, including:
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

“This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. When she was 17 years old, Martha had a metaphorical bomb go off in her head. Since then, she’s had an extremely difficult time being a person. Sorrow and Bliss is full of laugh-out-loud dark humor, hard truths, intensely human characters, sharp prose, and a story that will stick with you. I know it has for me.”
-Hannah Zimmerman, Trident Booksellers
Read about the other entries on the list.

Learn more about Sorrow and Bliss.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Six novels about women trying to outrun their past

Suzanne Redfearn is the bestselling author of four novels: Hush Little Baby, No Ordinary Life, In An Instant, and Hadley & Grace.

[Q&A with Suzanne RedfearnMy Book, The Movie: Hadley and GraceThe Page 69 Test: Hadley & Grace]

Born and raised on the east coast, Redfearn moved to California when she was fifteen. She currently lives in Laguna Beach with her husband where they own two restaurants: Lumberyard and Slice Pizza & Beer.

In addition to being an author, Redfearn is an architect specializing in residential and commercial design. When not writing, she enjoys doing anything and everything with her family—skiing, golf, tennis, pickleball, hiking, board games, and reality TV. She is an avid baseball fan. Her team is the Angels.

At CrimeReads Redfearn tagged six novels about women fleeing for and from their lives, including:
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is my favorite woman-on-the-run story, mostly for how original it is. Amy Dunne has gone missing, and Nick Dunne, her husband, is the prime suspect. Evidence against him mounts as an annual wedding anniversary treasure hunt turns up a slew of clues—an affair between Nick and one of his students; the shocking revelation that Amy is pregnant; and a diary that divulges Amy’s growing isolation and her fear that Nick is going to kill her. But… what if? This twisty, turny novel is too good to give away, but it puts a whole new spin on the classic cat-and-mouse chase.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gone Girl made Max Manning's top ten list of psychopathic crime & thriller characters, Steven L. Kent and Nicholas Kaufmann's list of six favorite literary human monsters, Elizabeth Macneal's list of five sympathetic fictional psychopaths, Jo Jakeman's top ten list of revenge novels, Amanda Craig's list of favorite books about modern married life, Sarah Pinborough's top ten list of unreliable narrators, C.A. Higgins's top five list of books with plot twists that flip your perception, Ruth Ware's top ten list of psychological thrillers, Jane Alexander's top ten list of treasure hunts in fiction, Fanny Blake's list of five top books about revenge, Monique Alice's list of six great fictional evil geniuses, Jeff Somers's lists of the top five best worst couples in literature, six books that’ll make you glad you’re single and five books with an outstanding standalone scene that can be read on its own, Lucie Whitehouse's ten top list of psychological suspense novels with marriages at their heart and Kathryn Williams's list of eight of fiction’s craziest unreliable narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 12, 2021

Six of SFF’s hottest royals

Zoraida Córdova is the award-winning author of is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels and short stories, including the Brooklyn Brujas series, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina.

At she tagged six "Science Fiction and Fantasy novels with royals that will abscond with your heart," including:
Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott

I do not use the phrase “I would read this author’s grocery list” lightly. But when it comes to Kate Elliott, that is applicable. Kate Elliott’s latest, Unconquerable Sun, gender-remixes the ancient Greek ruler Alexander the Great in Princess Sun, a girl who has come of age under the shadow of her fierce mother. Sun has a legacy to contend with. Her mother, Eirene, is the fierce queen-marshal who expelled invaders and turned their land into a republic. But, as her family’s enemies scheme to rid Chaonia of its heir, Princess Sun turns to unlikely allies to survive. Among them are her biggest rival, her secret love, and a dangerous prisoner of war. What I love about Sun is that she’s a cunning sci-fi heroine who is imperfect, and all the better for that. Elliott’s space opera is so detailed that you can see all aspects of the cultures and politics she’s created, which makes for excellent tension.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Eleven fictional hotels for your fictional vacation

Jae-Yeon Yoo is an MA candidate in English at New York University.

At Electric Lit she tagged eleven "novels to immerse yourself in the world of hotels, hospitality work, and bed-making." One title on the list:
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel’s protagonist, Vincent, takes you to the other side of the bar–her story begins as a bartender at a luxury hotel in Vancouver Island. One night, shaken by a message scrawled on the hotel lobby’s glass wall (”Why don’t you swallow broken glass”), Vincent chooses to leave the hotel for the “kingdom of money.” She becomes involved with an international conman, Jonathan Alkaitis, posing as his wife. But when Alkaitis’s schemes collapse, Vincent also disappears. Mandel’s intricate narratives blur the lines between the past and present, living and dead, reality and self-delusion.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Five top winter mysteries and thrillers

Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands. After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel. Pearse has always been drawn to the dark and creepy – remote spaces and abandoned places – so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she’d found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium.

At CrimeReads she tagged five favorite frozen mysteries and thrillers, including:
The Snowman, by Jo Nesbø

The Snowman is a thrilling slice of Nordic Noir that kept me turning the pages well into the night. Jo Nesbo needs no introduction nor does one of his most popular characters, Norwegian Detective Harry Hole. In The Snowman, a boy called Jonas wakes up one morning after the first snowfall of the year and finds that his mother has disappeared. All that remains of her, a pink scarf, his Christmas present to her, is now adorning the snowman that has suddenly appeared in their garden. Harry believes that there might be a link between Jonas’s mother and a strange letter that he’s received, and he soon stumbles across a pattern: over the past decade, eleven women have vanished, all on the day of the first snow.

This is a gripping, suspenseful read and one of Nesbo’s most chilling as he flips what should be a symbol of childhood innocence and purity—a snowman—on its head and turns it into something macabre and disturbing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Five YA fantasy titles where enemies become lovers

Hafsah Faizal is the New York Times bestselling author of We Hunt the Flame and the newly released We Free the Stars, and the founder of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors and beauteous goodies for everyone else.

When she’s not writing, she can be found designing, deciding between Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim, or traversing the world. Born in Florida and raised in California, she now resides in Texas with her family and a library of books waiting to be devoured.

At Faizal tagged five YA fantasy books where enemies become lovers, including:
No enemies-to-lovers list can be complete without Robin LaFevers’ Grave Mercy, which, if memory serves, was the first time I’d encountered the trope and began hungering for more. In this dark story, our protagonist escapes a forced marriage to join a convent. But all is not as it seems, for this convent serves Death, and Ismae must accept a violent destiny as an assassin. She thrives in her life of blood and destruction, until she meets her latest target, who has the audacity to steal her heart.
Read about the other titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 8, 2021

Eleven thrillers set in toxic workplaces

Amy Gentry is the author of the feminist thrillers Good as Gone, Last Woman Standing, and Bad Habits, as well as Boys for Pele, a book of music criticism in the 33 1/3 series.

At Electric Lit she tagged eleven favorite thrillers set in toxic workplaces. including:
Theater Company: Temper by Layne Fargo

Theater people are the orchids of creative types: gorgeous and hotblooded, flamboyant yet fragile. But where personalities are larger than life and dedication to capital-A “Art” is the only thing that matters, boundary-crossing behavior can be justified in the name of “genius”—especially if the genius is a man. Layne Fargo’s debut—loosely inspired by a Chicago theater director who rained psychological, physical, and sexual abuse down on his colleagues for years—skillfully dissects the intense dynamics in a group of people who’ve fallen under the sway of a real-life art monster.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Molly Schoemann-McCann's five fictional workplaces more dysfunctional than yours.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Six top novels about sisters

Leslie Archer is the nom de plume of a New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty-five novels, including The Girl at the Border.

[The Page 69 Test: The Girl at the Border; Writers Read: Leslie Archer (December 2018); My Book, The Movie: The Girl at the Border]

His new novel is Until We are Lost.

At CrimeReads, Archer tagged six novels he's "read and loved, that deal with what life is like for two sisters, in different countries, with different values, and even in different time periods. But one thing connects them all: they are presented to us in three thrilling dimensions with all their frailties, their unresolved desires, and their bitter-sweet experiences intact." One title on the list:
Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

So I’m going to stretch the guidelines of my remit for this column a bit for this sixth book. I do so because Cantoras is so extraordinary, so overlooked, so magnificent that it demanded inclusion here. The five queer women who inhabit this book, this world fully, live in the worst of times, mainly 1977 Uruguay, when a brutal military dictatorship is in power, having crushed the last remnants of dissent. These five brave and fierce women are thrust headlong into this nightmare scenario, not without frightening consequences for being young, unmarried, and worst of all in the eyes of both their parents and the junta, queer. And yet they persevere through every hardship, every diabolical situation, becoming not only sometimes lovers, but mostly fast friends, and then, family to each other. Sisters in every sense of the word. This is a novel not to be missed.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Five top intrusive fantasy books

Gita Trelease is the author of All That Glitters (UK Enchantée,) a YA fantasy set on the eve of the French Revolution, and the sequel Everything That Burns. Born in Sweden to Indian and Swedish parents, Trelease has lived in New York, Paris, and a tiny town in Italy. She attended Yale College and New York University, where she earned a Ph.D. in British literature. Before writing novels, she taught classes on monsters and fairy tales. With her family, Trelease divides her time between a village in Massachusetts and the coast of Maine, where she searches for a secret portal to take her back to Versailles.

At Trelease tagged five favorite books featuring intrusive fantasy (the opposite of portal fantasy), including:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

“The circus arrives without warning,” begins The Night Circus. “No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.” I love the opening of this book, in part because it captures for me an essential quality of intrusive, fairy tale magic: one day everything is as it was, and the next day something unexpected has happened to change it forever. There are several magicians in this book and Morgenstern moves between their stories and those of complete outsiders to the circus. This separation lets us experience the story’s magic, both beautiful and cruel, from the inside and at the same time to long for it when we stand outside the circus gates. It’s apt that the circus aficionados call themselves “rêveurs” or dreamers, as dreaming itself is an intrusive magic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 5, 2021

Seven top thrillers featuring communal living

Alison Wisdom's new novel We Can Only Save Ourselves "follows the disappearance and radicalization of one 'perfect' teenage girl, told from the perspective of the town she left behind."

At CrimeReads, Wisdom tagged seven great reads about communal living, including:
Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

In this delicious, simmering novel, Frances Jellico, a young woman grieving the loss of her mother, moves into a crumbling manor house in England to study the architecture of the house’s gardens. But she isn’t alone—the handsome Peter and his glamorous lover Cara are there, too, sharing the bedroom below Frances’. Frances is attracted to Peter’s quiet thoughtfulness and to Cara’s wildness, and to her surprise, Peter and Cara feel a pull to Frances as well, drawing her into their tumultuous relationship. Their days are spent in languid pleasure, but soon it becomes apparent Peter and Cara are hiding something; as the summer continues, the lazy, decadent hours they pass together become spoiled, each moment among the three like an overripe piece of fruit left out in the sun, ready to split open and reveal the darkness inside.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Ten top books about soccer

David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and received exceptional critical acclaim, as did the other two books in the Disco Days Trilogy: The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas and The Man Who Loved Islands.

Ross's new novel is There’s Only One Danny Garvey.

At the Guardian he tagged ten of the best books about football, including:
The Van by Roddy Doyle

Perhaps a surprising addition to the team sheet but The Van captures the unfettered joy of an unexpected cup run. In this case, the Irish national team’s extraordinary World Cup finals performance at Italia ’90 provides the canvas for a portrait of tender, middle-aged friendship. When Jimmy Rabbitte Sr ploughs his unemployment money into a rundown fish-and-chip van, he unwittingly inspires the writing of every one of my books.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The most enduring imposters in crime fiction and espionage

Paul Vidich’s fourth novel, The Mercenary, is now out from Pegasus Books. His debut novel, An Honorable Man, was selected by Publishers Weekly as a Top 10 Mystery and Thriller in 2016. It was followed the next year by The Good Assassin. His third novel, The Coldest Warrior, was widely praised in England and America, earning strong reviews from The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times.

[Q&A with Paul Vidich]

At CrimeReads, Vidich tagged five "classic works whose memorable imposters still entertain and appall us," including:
The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum (1980)

The Bourne Identit is a spy fiction thriller that turns the imposter trope upside down. It is the story of a man cast into the ocean when his boat explodes, causing total memory loss, who must then recover his identity. In the process, he encounters shady pursuers, a professional assassin, and the CIA, who want him dead. He thinks he’s succeeded finding his name when he follows a clue to Zurich and a bank clerk recognizes him as Jason Bourne. With that erroneous identification, he unwittingly becomes Jason Bourne’s imposter.

The story takes readers on a twisted and dangerous journey into a world of deceptions and conspiracies, offering a psychological portrait of a man who is uncomfortable believing that he is capable of the horrendous crimes committed by Bourne. He seeks to piece together the dangerous puzzle of his missing past. At the novel’s end, he proves that he is not the real Jason Bourne, but the only clue to his real identity is a first name—David. The novel ends as it began, with the protagonist living in a dissociative fugue state not knowing who he is.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Bourne Identity is among Jeff Somers's five books that use amnesia effectively.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Eight notable mean girls in literature

Ellie Eaton is a freelance writer, whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Observer, and Time Out. Former Writer-in-Residence at a men’s prison in the UK, she holds an MA in creative writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and was awarded a Kerouac Project residency. Born and raised in England, she now lives in Los Angeles with her family. The Divines is her first novel.

At Lit Hub, Eaton tagged eight of literature's notable mean girls, including:
Caroline Bingley
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Snobbish, meddling, and two-faced, Caroline Bingley is the original mean girl. In Austen’s beloved novel of manners, when Caroline—an elegant, well-educated woman with a fortune of twenty thousand pounds—finds herself in danger of being sidelined by Elizabeth Bennett, she does what any villainess would do, freeze her out. Patronizingly cordial to Elizabeth in person, as soon as the eldest Bennett’s back is turned Caroline sticks the knife in. “She had no conversation, no style, no taste, no beauty,” she snaps, the 19th Century equivalent of trash-talking. Though Caroline’s snubbing of the Bennett sisters ultimately fails to keep Elizabeth and Darcy apart you have to admire her back-stabbing ambition.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Sarah Vaughan's list of nine fictional bad mothers in fiction, Jessica Francis Kane's top ten list of houseguests in fiction, O: The Oprah Magazine's twenty greatest ever romance novels, Cristina Merrill's list of eight of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance, Sarah Ward's ten top list of brothers and sisters in fiction, Tara Sonin's lists of fifty must-read regency romances and seven sweet and swoony romances for wedding season, Grant Ginder's top ten list of book characters we love to hate, Katy Guest's list of six of the best depictions of shyness in fiction, Garry Trudeau's six favorite books list, Ross Johnson's list of seven of the greatest rivalries in fiction, Helen Dunmore's six best books list, Jenny Kawecki's list of eight fictional characters who would make the best travel companions, Peter James's top ten list of works of fiction set in or around Brighton, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, Melissa Albert's lists of five fictional characters who deserved better, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books and recommended reading for eight villains, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance, Emma Donoghue's list of five favorite unconventional fictional families, Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 1, 2021

Five great alternative histories of WWII and the space race

Sylvain Neuvel dropped out of high school at age 15. Along the way, he has been a journalist, worked in soil decontamination, sold ice cream in California, and taught linguistics in India. He’s also a certified translator, though he wishes he were an astronaut. He writes about aliens and giant robots as a blatant excuse to build action figures (for his son, of course).

Neuvel's new novel is A History of What Comes Next.

At he tagged five favorite alternative histories of WWII and the space race. including:
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

So much for avoiding the obvious. The Calculating Stars is an instant classic and absolutely everyone should read it. A meteorite hits Earth in 1952 and the resulting global warming menaces all life on the planet. While an international coalition speeds up the space program in the hopes of saving humanity, an incredibly smart human computer persists in her attempts at joining a mission to the moon despite rampant sexism. Mary Robinette Kowal captures the spirit of the era with finesse and the main character is an absolute gem. It’s no surprise the book won the Hugo, the Nebula and the Locus Awards. If you know anything about the history of women pilots, the Ninety-Nines, or the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (aka Mercury Thirteen), you’ll absolutely love this, and if not, this is a wonderful introduction to the subject. Bonus: It’s the first of the Lady Astronaut series. Two more novels: The Fated Sky and The Relentless Moon are available now. There are also two novelettes in the same universe.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue